My true feelings about a country come out after I get the flag. It tells me a lot about what I need to know about interacting with the local women, and unless I see hope of something a little meaningful, unique, or special, I back down. That’s what happened after getting my Swedish flag. I didn’t care for prowling through the mall or going back to the club Sticky Fingers. I just wanted to spend my days at the coffee shop.
The one I started going to had a blonde girl with curly hair. She was not the most beautiful girl who worked there but I was drawn to her warm personality in a country where people were restrained from showing emotion or excitement. One day I pointed to a pastry and said, “Where I’m from we don’t have that.” She asked where I was from and I wanted to explore things further but there was a line behind me.
After three or four days of ordering from her without really getting anywhere, I came on a Saturday afternoon when she wasn’t there. You know how you can tell when someone is looking at you from the corner of your eye? Well, as I was reading my book, I felt it. The second I looked up I saw her walking by. She slowed down her gait a bit so we could exchange hellos.
I waited a while to see if she would come back around but she didn’t. I began packing my things to leave. At that moment she came to bus the tables next to me.
“The sun is finally out today,” I said.
“Yes, summer wants to arrive.”
“I’m a little surprised by the cold weather. People told me that if I wanted to come to Sweden then I should do it during summer, but it’s the middle of June and it doesn’t feel like summer.”
She put the tub down on the table. “July and August has good weather here. By next month it should be fine.”
“I don’t think I will be here next month,” I said.
“How long are you staying?”
“About two more weeks. Oh, I actually wanted to ask you something.”
“Do you recommend any touristy things to do? Honestly I haven’t done much but come to this coffee shop.”
“I can think of some things. Are you here in the city alone?”
“Yes, I’m alone. What’s your name?”
“Jenny. And yours?”
“Burt. I know you work a lot, but if you get free for an hour we can take a walk. Maybe you can show me around.”
“Do you work tomorrow?” The coffee shop was getting busy and I knew she couldn’t keep chatting.
“Yes I’m here until closing.”
“Okay well you think of some places and we’ll talk tomorrow.”
It was a risky move to not go for the number right then, but I knew Sunday would be quiet and I could get it on stronger footing. I also planned on showing up late so that she would (hopefully) wonder if I was coming or not. When I meet a girl at a bar I go full-court press and aim for a nonstop chat of a couple hours to get her in bed the same night, but in a situation where you see someone regularly, a dance has to be played. Attention must be regulated.
That night I went early to the club Excet at 10:30 to avoid lines and a cover charge, but was hit with a $20 fee nonetheless. I was the fourth or fifth person there and settled onto the ground floor where the DJ played a lot of Drake and Kanye West. The music was quiet enough that I could pick the brain of the young bartender for nightlife tips. He was a big fan of America, like most Swedes, and asked me a lot of questions about which city he could go to for both work and play (I told him New York).
The crowd turned suddenly. One minute it was quiet and the next I felt like it was packed with drunk people. Behind me was a group of eight guys, all plastered, with one in a wheelchair. I had never seen a drunk guy in a wheelchair before that wasn’t a homeless man. He began raging, throwing cups at his friends in response to them dumping a beer in his lap. I was hit twice and told one of his friends to tell him to take it easy. He said, “You should tell him!” That was a neat trick, I thought, letting the cripple get away with anything because everyone would feel too guilty to tell him stop misbehaving. I moved away from them and watched the cripple terrorize the crowd with impunity.
My first approach of the night told me how things would go. I talked to a cute girl who was interested that I was American, but her friend wouldn’t stop pawing at her. The conversation lasted five minutes. My second approach was on a girl who actually wanted to live in Washington DC and was excited I was from there. It doesn’t get more money than that, but a few minutes later her friend physically got in between us. It was the night of cockblock. Every single approach would end a couple minutes in. I looked around to the other foreign guys and they were getting with 4′s and 5′s and 6′s. I refused to go below a 7.
By 3am, with two hours left to closing, I was exhausted. I had gotten absolutely nowhere. I wasn’t even getting close. It became hard to do an approach after this time because groups merged and the male to female ratio was four to one. I badly wanted to go home but I felt that since I had stayed out this late, I might as well go all the way. I maintained sobriety by following a one-drink-per-hour rule. I made it until 4:45 just as the club was emptying.
As an afterthought, I remembered how this hour would be prime game time in Iceland, that all I would have to do was walk around for a bit and approach singles. Would it work in Sweden? Only one way to find out.
CONCLUDED: PART 2